Last year I was searching for more fulfillment at work. I had been in sales and marketing for 13 years, and though the company was successful, something was missing. I felt if I kept doing the same thing for much longer, I would look back with regret. One of the questions I asked was, “What am I wired to do?” You can get an idea of what you were made for when you understand how you were made—purpose informs design.
One of the tools I used was Clifton StrengthsFinder. I had taken the StrengthsFinder assessment a few years before and still had the results. Like most assessments, I had received the results, scanned them, and then nicely filed them away for later. There must be a lonely place where all assessment results wait for their owners. Most of them never get picked up.
But here I was years later, looking for insight and understanding into myself. StrengthsFinder helped me find some. Here’s how StrengthsFinder changed my life.
StrengthsFinder was created by Dr. Donald Clifton, a college professor and behavioral psychologist. He had a fundamental belief that instead of focusing on what you do wrong, you ought to focus on what you do right. “Find out what you do well and do more of it,” Clifton said. “Become more of who you already are.”
Helping people discover their areas of natural, God-given talent is what Clifton set out to do. After 40 years of research including two million interviews, Clifton discovered scores of individual talented behaviors that could be categorized with other, like behaviors into talent themes. StrengthsFinder helps to measure talent among these 34 different themes.
As of today, StrengthsFinder has been taken by 16,890,799 people in 20 different languages. It has a huge, supportive community including online groups, annual conference, best-selling books, certified coaches, and its owner, the Gallup Organization.
Once you take StrengthsFinder, you receive several reports that identify your results, explain them, and suggest steps for growth. The idea is to develop your talents into strengths. Gallup research has shown that folks who operate in their strengths every day are “three times as likely to report having an excellent quality of life and are six times as likely to be engaged in their job.”
Last year my quality of life was suffering and I was disengaged in my job. StrengthsFinder changed my life in several ways.
First, it gave me permission to make “using my strengths” a reasonable expectation at work. Before that, I looked at work as “grin and grit it through”—I didn’t think you were supposed to enjoy it. Second, it informed my sense of purpose. Naming my talents helped to validate my past moments of “I was made for this” as more than just emotional fervor.
Third, StrengthsFinder identified specific areas of talent that I ought to do more of. Instead of spending a lot of effort trying to improve what I didn’t do well, it freed me up to focus on what I did do well. Fourth, it showed me where to target meaningful growth. The best opportunity for success is to start with talent. That’s where the greatest potential is.
Fifth, it established confidence that talent was within me. By tapping into my talents, I can produce great results with the material already inside of me.
Sixth, StrengthsFinder gave me a language to understand talent in others. Now I’m more aware to call out talent when I see it.
Yes, StrengthsFinder changed my life. The question is, can it change yours?